Smarter use of energy is a necessity nowadays and the best way to achieve this is better technology. So, what should you do if you want to cut down on energy usage at home or in the office.
1. Homes That Are Smarter & More Connected
The world we live in is increasingly connected and this the case for our homes. The Internet has made it possible for new appliances and electronic devices to be linked to offer real-time data that makes it much easier to lower and understand energy use
The technologies will soon be smarter and more cost effective thanks to a project the Building Technologies Office in the Energy Department supports. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is developing new wireless sensors to boost the energy efficiency of homes via automated control systems for lighting, cooling and heating units, as well as other systems that access data such as occupancy, light level, humidity, and outside and room temperature. They will do all that at a fraction of the cost of the wireless sensors currently available in the market.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing new standards and protocols for improving the communication of smart appliances and their interaction with the electric grid.
2. Highly-Efficient Heat Pumps
A new generation of heat pump systems is being ushered in by the Building Technologies Office. The new heat pumps warm and cool home through the movement of heat from one space to the next. They include:
A heat pump and air conditioner powered by natural gas and uses an ultra-low emission burner and other equipment to provide hot water, cooling, and heating.
A multi-function fuel-powered residential heat pump capable of reducing your primary energy consumption by as much as 30 percent.
A low-cost heat pump for reducing heating costs by as much as 30 to 45 percent in comparison to conventional boilers and gas furnaces.
3. Carbon-Fighting Clothes Dryers
The same concept behind heat pump technology that ensures that your home is comfortable can be used for an equally important application, which is drying your clothes. General Electric and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are developing a clothes dryer that generates hot air required for drying using a heat pump cycle. The result is a highly efficient dryer capable of reducing energy consumption by 60 percent in comparison to the conventional models currently in the market.
4. Magnetic Refrigerators
General Electric and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working in collaboration to develop a revolutionary type of refrigerator that creates cold using magnets, which is also referred to as the magnetocaloric effect (raising or lowering a material’s temperature by making changes to the magnetic field).
For over a century, refrigerators have depended on a process referred to as vapor compression, which uses coolants that can be detrimental to the environment. The new refrigerator is a groundbreaking technology and uses water-based cooling fluid, which makes it more efficient and better for the environment translating to less carbon pollution and lower bills.
5. Advanced Window Controls
Pella Windows and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory are working together to develop new highly insulated windows that use microprocessors and sensors for adjusting shading automatically based on the time of day and the amount of sunlight available to ensure comfort and proper lighting thus saving consumes money and energy.
6. Next-Generation Insulation
When it comes to reducing the cooling and heating costs in your home, insulation plays an important role. The Industrial Science and Technology Network is currently developing new foam insulation made using advanced and environmentally composite materials that make sure that heat does not escape from the walls, attic, and other areas of your home during the winter.
7. Reflective Roofing Materials
Cool roofs with a coating of materials that contain specialized pigments reflect sunlight and absorb less heat when compared to standard roofs. The roof systems are expected to be even “cooler” because of the new fluorescent pigments that PSG Industries and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are developing that can reflect close to 4 times the amount of sunlight standard pigments do.
8. Better, Brighter Lighting
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have come a long way, with today’s best performing lights consuming up to 85% less energy when compared to incandescent bulbs. The Solid State Lighting Program of the Building Technologies Office supports research and development for lowering the cost of LEDs and making them more long lasting and efficient. LE efficiency is actually expected to double from the current 125 to 135 lumens per watt to as high as 230 lumens per watt over the next few years due to the continued research and development.
9. Small Incremental Changes
The technology above could be seen as cutting edge and in a lot of ways it is and will make a notable differecne to an office building or a home in terms of energy usage. However, small incremental changes can help us lower our carbon footprint and go greener. For example a newer boiler is going to be greener than an older one and there are plenty of great deals on relatively new used boilers and heating systems. Alternatively, insulation improvements can make a notable difference to a home as well as limited solar panelling of a building. The point is, every change you make helps in the fight to reduce energy consumption.
All of the above tips are there to help reduce energy costs and create a more efficient means of living.